It was like a dream come true. Yes, another one.
Last summer, I took a visit to Pinewood studios where James Gunn and co. were deep into production on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. As well as spending some time at video village, watching the footage roll in, I got to chat to a whole range of people behind the making of the film, walk around the sets and generally be a terrible snoop.
Much of what I learned will be in an upcoming issue of Bleeding Cool magazine, a special feature that looks in some detail at this particularly brave move on Marvel Studios’ part. Today, though, I want to focus in on one aspect of the production in particular, and that’s the man in the spotlight.
Chris Pratt is the front man for the Guardians, playing Peter Quill, the self-appointed Star Lord. Here’s what Pratt had to tell me about taking on this role, and its many challenges and opportunities.
There are so many appealing elements to playing this character. Number one, it’s a great script.
And i’s really great to have a director who is a fanboy and understands the rules that work in this universe. Actually, I don’t know if fanboy is the right term. But he knows every character from every Marvel movie, every Marvel comic book and he understands what it’s going to take to make this movie work.
In terms of this character, man, I mean it’s really fun. Kevin Feige told me that the footage they’re watching was like Han Solo crossed with Marty McFly. There’s very much a sense of a kid still inside this guy, so he’s not like a hardcore man, there’s a playfulness, an element of him still being very immature and having a lot to learn, and having a lot of fun doing the things he gets up to.
When I sat down with the heads of Marvel they said “Listen, you did a great job. We tested a lot of people but none of them really had this guy’s voice, none of them really seemed like this character but you, but you don’t look like the comic at all.” They had seen that I had lost weight previously for roles but they had to ask “Do you you think you can do it on this timeline?”
They set me up with a nutritionist, two personal trainers in LA that I worked with like it was my job. Four hours a day, at least, not including preparation and all the hours I spent not drinking. Becoming essentially sober was a full time job. I just had to eat right, drink a lot of water and take the right supplements.
It’s been eight months that I’ve been working out. It’s been an evolution and the workout has changed every six weeks. I lost ten inches on my waist, 65 lbs or something like that.
People are going to like the movie. I think that when you have a lot of baggage to a story or a set of characters, people come in with expectations that, if you don’t meet them, it can offend people. There are a handful of people who cherish the Guardians of the Galaxy but there have been so many incarnations you’ll be hard pressed to find one person who’ll say “You didn’t nail it exactly how it was supposed to be.” Really, this we can read whatever we want into this because the Guardians have been so many things. I think it’s harder when you doing Star Wars or something. Remaking Star Wars would be like remaking the bible.
They’re definitely anti-heroes. And it’s not a superhero movie, it’s a space opera, and it’s an ensemble in an amazing, magnificent, beautiful galaxy. What these folks have created has given me goosebumps. It’s so damn cool and so imaginative, and there are so many artists at work right now, making this world, these worlds, this galaxy, real in a way that nobody has ever seen. This is a movie about a group of anti-heroes coming together in space. They’ve all lost something, they’re all broken a little bit and then they find a reason to all come together, something to live for in one another in the dynamic of the group.
To me, this is just another delivery system for Marvel stories. There’s comic books, there’s graphic novels, there’s cartoons, there’s televisions shows and big blockbuster movies. This sticks closest to the Abnett and Lanning version but it’s not the Bendis stuff. That’s not the story we’re telling. This is another version of it, we’re not trying to recreate anything specific that was in print.
I think it’s going to feel like a James Gunn film. It’s big, it’s funny, it really commits to every moment, whether its dramatic, romantic, silly, adventurous, funny. It’s all of those things and while it doesn’t take itself seriously, it takes storytelling seriously, and that’s what I’d say about his films. It’s not like just squinting into the sunset being a badass, it’s taking the piss a little bit.
Well, reading that back now, Pratt sure does a great job of selling the film. At the same time, he’s only just scratching the surface. Honestly, what James Gunn and Marvel are trying to pull off here is quite remarkable. They want you to laugh, they want you to be excited, they want to provoke you and they even want you to cry.
And I think it might work because, actually, I had tears in my eyes while I was on set, just watching one of the monitors…
But that’s another story. Stick around and I’ll keep bringing you more reports from the set as we go along. You certainly won’t want to miss the one about Drax.